An Australian television station has issued an apology after one of its shows was criticized as “xenophobic” and “racist” by fans of South Korean boy-band BTS.
On Wednesday night, Nine Network’s pop culture show “20 to One” ran a countdown on global crazes. BTS – who have broken numerous records and recently played at the UK’s Wembley Stadium in London – ranked as number 18, with the presenters describing them as “the biggest band you’ve never heard of.”
The segment included comments from British comedian Jimmy Carr, who said: “When I first heard something Korean had exploded in America, I got worried.”
“So I guess, could have been worse,” he said, before adding: “But not much worse.”
The show drew the ire of BTS’s passionate fans – known as ARMY – who took to Twitter to condemn the comments as racist. The hashtag #channel9apologize trended among Australian Twitter users on Thursday.
“It’s time Australian media learned that their racism and xenophobia isn’t acceptable,” wrote BTS Australia, a Twitter account for Australia-based ARMY.
On Thursday, a Nine spokesperson issued an apology.
“As a light-hearted entertainment program, it is our belief that last night’s episode of ‘20 to One’ … did not breach any broadcast regulations, and was intended to humorously highlight the popularity of the group,” the spokesperson said in a statement to CNN.
“We apologize to any who may have been offended by last night’s episode.”
BTS are, by many measures, the biggest boyband in the world right now – and their fans are known for being extremely passionate.
In April, the seven-person-band became only the third group in 50 years to have three number one albums on the Billboard 200 charts in less than 12 months, joining the ranks of The Beatles and The Monkees. The next month, BTS became the first group in Billboard history to spend five weeks at number one on the Billboard Artist 100 chart.
BTS’s ARMY, an acronym for “Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth,” are often credited with contributing significantly to BTS’s international success.